Across the Distant Stars
Nine months passed on Telezart, full of more information hunting. The day finally came when Kyren gave birth to her daughter. To her mother’s frustration, the little girl was born with so little hair that Kyren was unable to tell what color it truly was.
A few months passed and the girl grew into a beautiful little baby, and as her body grew so did her hair, every single blonde tress of it.
Kyren was so angry at the development that one day, when her daughter was just a little over six months old, Kyren scooped her up and left the ship that she and Asher were still living in. She did not bother with the shuttle, she was too angry to pilot it. Instead she caught the same transport that she had taken fifteen months ago and rode it all the way to the Epigenetic Research and Development Center.
The woman got off the transport and marched in through the front doors of the center, hauling Trelaina with her. The little girl did not give one word of protest as her mother unceremoniously stormed up to a very surprised Holden Krom and placed the girl in his hands.
“You are incompetent and stupid! You have no business working here!”
Holden looked down at the blonde infant quizzically, not understanding why this woman was so angry with this lovely child or with him.
Then the woman’s wild eyes met his and she said, “I am Kyren!”
“Oh.” Holden said, the memory coming to him. “Yes… I remember you.” He said slowly, shifting the little girl so that he had a better hold on her.
“Fix her.” the woman demanded, shoving an unhappy finger in her baby’s face.
“But there is nothing wrong with her.” he protested.
“Yes. There. Is.” She pronounced each word purposefully.
By now people were starting to stare at the geneticist and the unhappy woman.
“It should be red!” she shouted at him.
“And so I engineered it to be.” Krom replied calmly.
“Then why is it not red?” she demanded.
“I do not know.” He replied.
“Why not?” she said sharply.
“Because there are still things that we mortals cannot explain. Genetic engineering is not foolproof. For all I know the very finger of God –”
“Shut up!” Kyren cried, covering her ears. “He had nothing to do with this!”
Holden looked first at the girl, then back at the angry Kyren.
The woman fumed for a moment, then whirled around and left.
“Oh… I think God definitely had a hand in this.” Holden whispered to his new little charge. “If there’s anything I’ve learned during my years working in genetics, it’s that no one can play against God and win.”
As the people in the lobby and connecting areas started to go back to their own business, the geneticist shifted the baby again so that he could walk back to his office without dropping her.
“Now, to find out your name, since your mother was not kind enough to tell me before she left.” Holden said, closing the glass office door.
Krom pulled out a small glass plate with rounded edges. One side was raised a bit – like a control panel.
The man took the baby’s tiny hand and pressed her thumb onto the glass. A blue light scanned the appendage, then the child’s identity appeared on the screen.
“Trelaina” he carefully pronounced. “Well, I suppose we should wait for your mother to come back for you. Surely she wouldn’t just leave you here…”
“Where’s Trelaina?” Asher asked.
“She is not the one.” Kyren stated in a monotone. Then she walked right past her husband, sat down in the pilot’s seat and started up the ship.
“Kyren…” Asher said, starting to understand that something was wrong, “what have you done with our daughter?!”
“I have merely left Telezart one more insignificant citizen.” She replied dismissively. “Just one more girl in a sea of billions.”
Asher grabbed Kyren’s hand as she reached for the lever that would start their ship moving. “We aren’t going anywhere without Trelaina.”
“Oh, but we are.” Kyren smirked.
“No, we aren’t.” her husband countered.
Asher felt the barrel of a pistol as it bit into his gut.
“Yes, we are.” She pushed the barrel harder into his stomach, “It’s either your ridiculous conscience, or your life.” Kyren hissed. “Choose carefully.”
Reality came crashing down over the man. His wife was going to kill him if she didn’t get her way this time.
“She’ll be fine” Asher thought to himself, trying to justify the choice he was about to make. “There are plenty of good people here who can take care of her…”
Asher backed away from Kyren and the controls.
“Good choice.” His wife tucked away her weapon again and turned her attention back to piloting the ship.
“If I may ask,” he said sarcastically, folding his arms across his chest in defiance, “where are we going now?”
“Elsewhere.” Came the answer.
“As in where?” he prodded.
“I still have my gun.” She intoned threateningly.
“Telling me where we’re going is not going to hurt you.” He said sharply.
“You’re acting like a child.” Asher said.
“Fine.” She spat back. “We’re going to the Sanzar system. It’s in the next galaxy.”
“And why are we going there?” he asked.
Kyren laughed. It was a sharp laugh, edged with scorn, “If you had broadened your little backwater education when you had the chance you would know that Telezart may be the most well-known for genetic research, but they are not the only ones who know how to reprogram a gene sequence. They also have a vast amount of old information that I wish to search through.”
Asher wanted to throttle the woman for her impudence – and perhaps because he had also just had his pride kicked out from under him – twice.
“If you must know,” she continued, “we are going to the planet Iscandar. Now sit. We’re going to hit atmosphere in a few minutes.”
Asher sat, but as the ship cleared the planet he cast a secret look back down at the world that was now charged with the care of his daughter. Guilt rose in his throat as the ship sped off into space.
The trip to Iscandar was long and uneventful. Kyren avoided her husband most of the time, though on a ship the size of theirs, it was difficult to pass a day without seeing one another at least once.
Finally, after five months of travel, they reached the outer limits of Iscandar’s system of planets. They passed the outer planets, finally getting a glimpse of the fourth planet – or rather the fourth planets. Iscandar in all her blue glory shared her orbit with a beautiful green world. The navigational computer called this other planet Gamilon.
Kyren piloted the ship down through Iscandar’s atmosphere without difficulty, obtaining the proper landing permits as she did it.
Within a half hour Kyren and Asher were again anchored on a world foreign to them.
Iscandar reminded Asher a little bit of Telezart, but it lacked the numerous buildings that Telezart had. Another key difference between the two planets was the size of the oceans. Telezart had a few small seas cascading over it. Iscandar was almost entirely one gigantic ocean. Hundreds of islands dotted one swath of the planet, making the land look like one tapering brushstroke on the canvas of the vast ocean waves. A second smaller portion of land jutted elegantly from the northern pole of the planet, like a thumb pointing downward.
The more rural look of Iscandar reminded Asher of his own homeworld of Neptoah, an agricultural planet.
“Hurry up.” Kyren said sharply, “we’ll be all day here if you don’t pick up the pace.”
Asher turned his eyes away from the myriad beautiful sights around him and caught up with his wife.
Soon the two were wandering the capitol, searching for the repository of information that Iscandar was supposed to have.
Upon reaching the heart of the city – the capitol building itself, they were greeted by the gate keeper who showed them into the building and informed them that this building also just so happened to be the palace. The gate keeper led them into the largest library that Asher – or Kyren for that matter – had ever seen. The number or resources seemed to be limitless.
The gate keeper left to return to her post at the door, leaving the couple to search to their hearts’ content. That was when Asher realized that, for the first time since they had left Telezart, he was actually excited about something.
“Start over there.” Kyren directed, pointing Asher to a computer station located all the way down the long pathway that ran the entire length of the library. “I’ll start here.” She said, pointing to the station that she was now standing right next to.
Happily accepting his banishment, Asher walked the length of the library only to find that the computer station that his wife had pointed to was not in fact the end of the library. From there the path took a sharp turn to the left, then another twenty feet down the hall it turned back to the right again.
Asher glanced back at Kyren. Seeing that she was already ensconced in her search, he quickly disappeared down the beckoning hallway, turning the corner and following the route until it led him out into a vast sunlit chamber filled with the smell of ancient volumes – much older than the ones that Kyren would be nosing through via the computer.
In the center of the circular room there were displayed two books back to back. A domed display case covered them, allowing visitors to look in, but not to touch the yellowed pages.
Asher walked up to the case, curious to know what the Iscandarians held in such high regard. His eyes widened in surprise as he recognized familiar characters and he found that he was able to read the first of the two books.
“How is it that such an ancient copy of the Torah found its way here?” he wondered, marveling at the coincidence before walking around the display to see the other book. This one was written in a language he did not know. It was character based – as was his own, but it seemed to be entirely different from his mother-tongue.
“Do you know what it says?”
Asher jumped at the voice, completely startled.
“I apologize.” The woman said, smiling pleasantly at him. “I did not mean to sneak up on you.”
The unexpected visitor stepped out from behind one of the decorative pillars that ringed the room. She was tall – almost as tall as Asher. Her long straight hair was a light brown and her skin was a few shades lighter than his own olive complexion. Her long green dress brushed the floor as she walked and she wore a curious piece of jewelry on her head that resembled a decorative headband.
“Oh no, it’s alright.” Asher said. “I was just trying to figure out what language this is.” He pointed to the book lying in front of him.
“Ah yes.” The woman said. “This is one of the languages that has been almost lost. It is called ‘Greek.’”
“I have never heard of it.” Asher said.
“If our historical records had not preserved knowledge of it, I would not have known about it either.” The woman said.
“How old is it?” Asher asked.
“Eighteen hundred years.” Came the startling answer.
“But that’s not possible…” he said.
“It is entirely possible, sir.” She said.
“My people are the descendants of a group of travelers that came from somewhere across the distant stars. They were a part of a larger group known as the ‘Mnasonim.’ They brought both of these volumes with them.”
Asher’s face lit up at her words.
“You are familiar with the Mnasonim?” the woman asked, seeming surprised.
“In a way.” He said, “The name is a reference to ‘seekers’ of some kind, am I correct?”
“Yes.” The woman answered.
“My wife and I have come here to Iscandar to find out about those travelers – the ones that no one seems to know anything about who settled among the stars. We have found one reference to a group called the ‘Hadassians,’ but we were unsure as to who and what they were. Is there anything else you can tell me about them or about these Mnasonim?”
The woman smiled at Asher’s enthusiasm. “The Hadassians are one of three branches of a very old family. The matriarch of the line was named Hadassah. Her father Iskender is the one for whom this planet is named.”
The woman went on to tell Asher everything she knew about the heritage of the Iscandari people and continued to tell him about the history of another branch of the family called the “Ibrahemic” line. Afterwards she told him sadly that the third branch – the line of Seda – was virtually undocumented. Historians had given up trying to find information about it a long time ago.
“I want to thank you for telling me what you have. Perhaps now my wife will let me live in peace.” He said, half-jokingly, and not. “Whom do I have the pleasure of thanking?”
“I am Janina, Queen of Iscandar.” She said before smiling brightly and walking away, leaving a stunned Asher behind.
While her husband was receiving the shock of his life, Kyren was searching through every record she could find, but she was not searching for Hadassians or historical volumes. She was scavenging everything she could find on genetics – specifically genetic engineering.
She found the names and contact information for several of the best geneticists on the planet, carefully choosing ones whom she deemed likely not to ask her too many questions.
She called four of them before she found what she was looking for.
“And you’re sure that it will be kept off the record?” Kyren asked the light-haired female geneticist – Frincha was her name – on the small screen she was holding up.
“Yes.” Frincha replied. “Our… association doesn’t like prying eyes any more than you do.”
“Tomorrow then?” Kyren asked.
“Tomorrow will be fine.” Frincha nodded.